Three wins in four days lift Eagles to No. 12 in state rankings

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Camilla Smith (20) calls out senior Makenzie Sweet (15) screen set for teammate Ashlyn Thompson (32) to Brynzee Hansen (30). Thompson contributed six points, Sweet five, and Hansen four. Thatcher downed Safford 50-22 during a South Region contest on Jan. 10. This week, Safford hosts 2A No. 3 Pima (Jan. 16), No. 42 Empire (Jan. 18), and No. 44 Catalina (Jan. 21) as No. 29. Thatcher visits No. 42 Tanque Verde (Jan. 18) as No. 12.

Thatcher downs Safford, Empire, Sabino by large margins

By Raymundo Frasquillo

THATCHER – The Dennis Griffin-coached Thatcher Eagles posted three region wins, 50-22 over Safford(Jan. 10), 67-13 over Tucson Empire (Jan. 12), and 56-11 over Tucson Sabino (Jan. 13) last week.

The Eagles entered the Safford game as the No. 17 ranked 3A team of 44 and days later, hosted Sabino as No. 12.

This week (Jan. 16-21), Thatcher visits Tanque Verde and Palo Verde Magnet visits Sabino on Wednesday, Jan. 18; Empire visits Safford and Pusch Ridge visits Palo Verde Magnet on Thursday, Jan. 19; and Catalina visits Safford on Saturday, Jan. 21, 

In non-region pairings, Pima visits Safford on Monday, Jan. 16; Tanque Verde visits Willcox on Friday,  Jan. 20; and Sabino visits Tucson Canyon del Oro and Pusch Ridge visits Winslow on Jan. 21.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Kellee O’Connell (21) defends Sabino junior Haley Hunter (24).

3A South Region Standings

Region standings through Jan. 14 were Pusch Ridge Christian (11-7 overall, 9-2 seeding, 3-0 region), TucsonPalo Verde Magnet (3-14, 2-8, 2-0), Thatcher (11-5, 8-1, 3-1), Safford (6-11, 4-5, 1-1), Tucson Sabino (8-12, 4-7, 1-1), Tucson Empire (1-19, 1-9, 0-3), Tucson Tanque Verde (2-11, 1-8, 0-1), and Tucson Catalina (0-10, 0-7, 0-3).

In region pairings, results are Pusch Ridge 47-42 over Thatcher (Jan. 6), 66-7 over Empire (Jan. 10), and 70-4 over Catalina (Jan. 13); Thatcher 50-22 over Safford (Jan. 10), 67-13 over Empire (Jan. 12), and 56-11 over Sabino (Jan. 13); Palo Verde Magnet 66-25 over Catalina (Nov. 25) and 41-15 over Empire (Jan. 13); Safford 55-25 over Tanque Verde (Jan. 3); and Sabino 62-17 over Catalina on Jan. 10; 

Remaining games for region members include nine for Safford (5 region) and Thatcher (4 region); eight for Palo Verde Magnet (6 region) and Pusch Ridge (4 region); and seven for Catalina (6 region), Empire (6 region),Tanque Verde (6 region); and Sabino (5 region).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Brian Avila makes his call known to the scorer’s table personnel. The 20th Century Clifton grad gives back to the community by helping guide its most valuable asset, its youth through rule enforcement.

Pusch Ridge (9-2 seeding, 8.2026 rating) was ranked ninth, Thatcher (8-1, 7.5511) 12th, Safford (4-5, minus 3.9133) 29th, Sabino (4-7, minus 5.0994) 32nd, Palo Verde Magnet (2-8, minus 13.0528) 39th, Empire (1-9,minus 15.1015) 41st, Tanque Verde (1-8, minus 16.1528) 42nd, and Catalina (0-7, minus 21.4611) 44th.

3A State Rankings

The statewide rankings heading into the weekend on Jan. 13 had the North Region with all seven teams in the Top 24, the East Region with 5-6 (.833), the South Central Region with 4-8 (.500), the North Central and West Regions with 3-7 (.429), and the South Region with 2-8 (.250).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Makenzie Sweet (15) attempts a steal from Sabino sophomore Taylor Tatum (4).

South Central Region Gilbert Christian (11-0 overall, 7-0 seeding, 16.1953 rating, 0-0 region) was first, North Region Kayenta Monument Valley (12-5, 8-2, 14.8648, 4-1) second, West Region Yuma Catholic (15-3, 8-1, 12.7432, 4-0) third, West Region Parker (12-6, 8-1, 10.9519, 3-1) fourth, North Region WhiteriverAlchesay (15-5, 7-3, 10.6572, 3-2) fifth, East Region Lakeside Blue Ridge (4-9, 4-1, 9.8299, 1-0) sixth, East Region Show Low (13-6, 7-3, 8.4314, 1-0) seventh, North Region Tuba City (12-6, 7-3, 7.7837, 2-2) eighth, South Region Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian (10-7, 7-2, 8.2026, 2-0) ninth, and North Region Chinle (12-5, 6-4, 7.8744, 3-3) 10th.

North Region Fort Defiance Window Rock (13-4, 5-4, 7.8469, 4-2) was 11th, South Region Thatcher (10-5, 7-1, 7.5511, 2-1) 12th, North Central Region Phoenix Bourgade Catholic (11-3, 7-2, 6.6724, 4-0) 13th, North Region Page (10-6, 6-4, 5.9848, 2-4) 14th, East Region Payson (10-5, 5-2, 5.4453, 0-1) 15th, North Central Region Scottsdale Christian (8-2, 6-1, 4.5938, 4-0) 16th, East Region Winslow (10-7, 5-4, 4.3888, 1-1) 17th,South Central Region Florence (11-6, 7-2, 3.8193, 0-0) 18th, South Central Region Chandler Valley Christian(13-7, 6-4, 2.9309, 1-0) 19th, and South Central Region Coolidge (7-8, 3-4, 2.3349, 0-0) 20th.

East Region Holbrook (7-10, 2-6, 0.4017, 0-1) was 21st, West Region Kingman (6-6, 5-4, minus 0.3127, 3-1) 22nd, North Central Region Phoenix Northwest Christian (4-8, 3-5, minus 0.5010, 1-2) 23rd, and North Region Ganado (6-10, 3-6, 1.1256, 0-4) 24th.

Thatcher – 56, Sabino – 11

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Thatcher bench, along with good luck charm “Tito” watch the game’s final minute.

A pair of free throws by junior Haley Hunter, the first allowed the Sabercats to reach double figures with 24 seconds left in the third quarter, and the second gave the visitors their final point with 2:20 left to play.

The Eagles led 25-3 following the first quarter, 37-6 at halftime and 48-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

Thatcher totaled 24 field goals (four 3-pointers) plus 4-11 free throws compared to three field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 3-10 free throws by Sabino.

Senior Ashlyn Thompson netted 18 points on eight field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 0-1 free throws and senior Jaiden Davis 10 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-2 free throws. Senior Makenzie Sweet added nine points, junior Macey Carter six, senior Kellee O’Connell five, senior Haley Nicholas four, and juniors Emma Green and Sophie Welker two apiece.

Sabino freshman Chayil Combs added six points, sophomore Marie Gomez three, and Hunter two.

Prior to tip-off, the Eagles averaged a 52-39 (733-546) score per game or a 13-point margin per game. The Sabercats averaged a 29-49 (551-922) score per game or 20-point deficit per game.

Thatcher  67, Empire – 13

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Regan Palmer (3) awaits teammate movement before passing the ball. Sabino junior Kahira Gonzales (3) defends.

The Eagles limited the Ravens to single digit scoring in two quarters and no points in the other two. Thatcher led 24-4 after the first quarter, 41-4 at halftime and 58-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

Thatcher totaled 28 field goals (five 3-pointers) plus 6-8 free throws compared to five field goals (two 3-pointers) plus 1-8 free throws by Empire.

Thompson netted 18 points on eight field goals plus 2-2 free throws. Nicholas and Sweet added nine points apiece, senior Regan Palmer seven, Davis six, Welker four, both Carter and O’Connell three, and Green, junior Miah Hunt, senior Hailey Smith, and sophomore Cambria Wakefield two apiece.

For Empire, J Ridley had six points, senior Audra Werner five, and sophomore Addison Keeling two.

Thatcher  50, Safford  22

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Sophie Welker (10) checks the team alignment before deciding what to do against Sabino.

Thatcher left Norma Bellamy Gymnasium with a 50-22 win in hand on Jan. 10. The Eagles entered the game as the No. 17 ranked 3A team of 44, but a day later, ascended to No. 13 and Safford remained No. 29.

The Eagles reeled off a 12-0 run during the opening 4:33 of the second quarter, using five different players to add five field goal plus 2-2 free throws for a 22-5 advantage, and one the Bulldogs would not match or surpass. It prompted a Safford timeout.

Thatcher led 31-11 at halftime, 44-17 after three quarters, and by as much as 33 points (50-17) with 4:54 left to play.

Safford senior Lexi Lucas scored the games’ initial point on 1-2 free throws with seven seconds elapsed. It would be the only advantage for the Bulldogs during the entire game.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher spirit line members help entertain the crowd during a break in the action.

Davis erased the Eagles’ disadvantage with a 3-pointer (3-1) nine seconds later and Sweet added a field goal (5-1) 37 seconds after that before Safford scored its second point, again on 1-2 free throws. Senior Brianna Camarena provided the point, giving the host a 3-point (2-5) deficit.

The Eagles countered with Thompson’s field goal as 4:41 and Nicholas’ 3-pointer as 1:42 remained, for a 10-2 advantage.

Safford added a Lucas field goal plus Camarena 1-2 free throws to get within five (5-10) during the closing 1:02. Thatcher scored four times with four different players in the first quarter versus two for Safford.

For the game, Safford connected on seven field goals plus 8-15 free throws compared to 20 field goals (three 3-pointers) plus 7-9 free throws by Thatcher.

Camarena totaled 10 points on two field goals plus 6-9 free throws. Lucas added six points, senior Brynzee Hansen four, and junior Melana Gonzales two.

For Thatcher, Nicholas had 16 points on seven field goals (two 3-pointers) and Davis 10 on four field goals (one 3-pointer) plus 1-1 free throws. Thompson added six points, Green and Sweet five apiece, Carter four, and both Palmer and Welker two each